DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
Nick Nolte is Former President ‘Graves’ and He Seems Oddly Familiar
October 15, 2016  | By Ed Bark  | 1 comment
 

Nick Nolte (top) is tattered, battered but still standing -- both as an actor and as former Republican President Richard Graves. His character left the Oval Office 25 years ago, and Google hasn’t been kind to him. “Who was the worst President in history?” he types. The consensus answer is him.

Throughout the three episodes made available for review, Nolte’s voice sounds as though he’s just gargled with glass shards. Moreover, his overall physical appearance resembles a totaled car. But at age 75, Nolte’s still a vigorous on-screen presence, cursing his way toward redemption by publicly admitting that the Graves administration did a lot more harm than good.

This fully dawns on him after a night’s worth of pot smoking with comely Samantha (Callie Hernandez), a heavily tattooed young waitress turned muse. He preps for this epiphany by disgustedly trashing his own presidential museum on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. It’s prelude to Graves awakening in a golf course sand trap. “I just crash-landed in the middle of my life. I’m born again, sweetheart!” he announces to his wife, Margaret (Sela Ward, top). “And it’s total peace!”

Graves (premiering on Epix, Sunday 10/16 at 10 p.m. ET) is billed as a “dramedy,” but its comedic beats too often are out of rhythm. This is particularly the case with Grave’s awkward new assistant, a kid named Isaiah Miller (Skylar Astin, right, with Ward). HBO’s Veep knows how to play its underlings to the hilt. Graves can be painful in comparison.

The ex-president’s “compound” is in Santa Fe, where the former First Lady gamely puts up with him. (Susan Sarandon originally was cast in the role, but withdrew.)

The Graves also have two children, neither terribly happy with their lives. Daughter Olivia (Helene Yorke) was married to a Rockefeller until he jilted her. She’s retaliated by blow-torching profanities onto some of their high-priced living room fixtures. Son Jeremy (Chris Lowell) is returning from Afghanistan to reluctantly live with his parents. He and his father haven’t gotten along in years.

Cameos abound, with Rudy Giuliani and Bill Richardson first seen playing themselves none too convincingly during Graves’ dedication of a veterans’ facility before a notably small crowd. Jillian Michaels, Joan Lunden, Jake Tapper, Michael Steele, and the inevitable Wolf Blitzer also can be glimpsed during the course of the first three episodes.

Graves is hardly revered as Ronald Reagan-esque, but was seriously wounded after a would-be assassin pumped three bullets into him. The resemblances to Donald Trump are a bit more pronounced. Graves’ hair is orange-ish and a current strict deportation policy -- for which he’s newly remorseful -- had its origins during his conservative presidency. In Episode 3, Graves revels in being “unshackled.” It was filmed well before Trump recently proclaimed the same, but now can be seen as somehow prescient. Graves also thunders near the close of Sunday’s premiere, “I will be your biggest advocate, your beacon of hope, your goddamn President.” Where have we heard that kind of self-aggrandizement before?

Graves assuredly will turn off some viewers with its title character’s U-turns from previous conservative positions on military spending and illegal immigration. The series clearly has an “agenda,” but isn’t all that artful in putting it forth. Nolte’s performance is energetic without being particularly memorable. It’s mostly nice to see he’s still vertical and with a little something left in the tank after many years of rough living. Occasionally, Graves also is fairly steady on its feet. But only occasionally.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net
 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
PLFOL
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: 
1 Comments
 
 
JOE MCARDLE
is this show only viewable on "satellite tv", which I do not have. I have COMCAST.where do I find it?
Oct 16, 2016   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Joe -- It's a premium network that I don't believe Comcast offers right now, but you can check out their website at epix.com to find out more information.
Oct 18, 2016
 
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: